Out on Friday 3 February
Maren Ade’s Germany comedy – kind of a wig deal. Matthew McConaughey heads to the jungle. Jeff Nichols’ first-ever true-life drama.
Yes, here's this week's new releases. Click on for our reviews of Toni Erdmann, Gold, Loving, Tower, and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
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A German comedy? That’s nearly three hours long? And centred on a sixty-something father, Winfried (Peter Simonischek), donning fright wig and buck teeth to inveigle his way into the work-focused existence of his estranged, middle-aged daughter, Ines (Sandra Hüller)? The joke’s on us, right?
Wrong. Winner of the International Critics’ Prize at Cannes and dozens of gongs since, Toni Erdmann balances warm-heartedness, goofy humour and broad set-pieces with sadness, loneliness and mental illness.
It’s a stunningly sophisticated (but accessible) work set in an authentic environment – even when colleagues attend a naked party to take cringe-com to new levels – and it questions the very function of humour (salve, weapon, defence mechanism?) without ever capping up its themes. Also, its writer/director Maren Ade refuses to buy into Winfried’s trite belief that Ines needs a husband and kids to find happiness.
Favourite for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, it’s already rumoured for a Hollywood remake. Alexander Payne could perhaps cope – there’s a touch of About Schmidt (opens in new tab), with added belly laughs – but it’ll likely be diluted down to a simplistic crowd-pleaser. Best catch it now.
THE VERDICT: Strikingly original, brilliantly acted, this serio-comic masterpiece constantly swerves expectations.
Director: Maren Ade; Starring: Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas loibl; Theatrical release: February 3, 2017
Not since Johnny Depp played Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (opens in new tab) has an A-list star tried as hard to be as unattractive as Matthew McConaughey does in Gold. Balding, pot-bellied and crooked of tooth, crazed prospector Kenny Wells is so far removed from this actor’s former romcom hottie status it almost works against the story.
A fact-inspired yarn that sees him brave the jungles of Indonesia, the wolves of Wall Street and a pet tiger without once troubling a breath mint.
Kicking off in 1981, Stephen Gaghan’s first movie since 2005’s Syriana has Wells form an alliance of convenience with Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez), a treasure hunter convinced a fortune is waiting to be discovered up river from Jakarta.
Couples don’t get much odder, yet their breakneck ascent from rags to riches and back again allows writers Patrick Massett and John Zinman to muse absorbingly on matters of friendship, trust and loyalty, even as they’re skewering the greed-is-good mentality of Reagan’s America.
As McConaughey’s gauche girlfriend, meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard gets to wear Alexis Carrington shoulder pads in a film whose nostalgic vibe extends to its pitch-perfect synth-pop soundtrack.
THE VERDICT: McConaughey’s sweat-stained swagger of a performance in Stephen Gaghan’s comeback ensures Gold rocks.
Director: Stephen Gaghan; Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramírez; Theatrical release: February 3, 2017
Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton play Mildred and Richard Loving, interracial spouses arrested for their marriage in Virginia, 1958. Their case made history at the Supreme Court 10 years on, but don’t expect courtroom histrionics from Jeff Nichols’ (Midnight Special (opens in new tab)) first-ever true-life drama.
Sensitively directed and subtly acted, this modestly radical romance is a soft-spoken beauty.
Director: Jeff Nichols; Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Nick Kroll; Theatrical release: February 3, 2017
In August 1966, a lone sniper atop the University of Texas’ Austin Tower embarked on a 90-minute shooting spree that left 16 people dead. Using archive footage, talking heads and rotoscoped reconstructions, Keith Maitland’s harrowing doc offers a minuteby-minute chronicle of how the day unfolded.
Less persuasive are its attempts to paint this incident as the first tragic flowering of a societal malaise.
Director: Keith Maitland; Theatrical release: February 3, 2017
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Alice’s ultimate bloodbath in zombieland takes the wasteland warrior back to where it all began with a last-ditch assault on The Hive. For fans of the series it offers familiar thrills – including a teeth-clenching laser corridor reprise – bringing Alice’s (Milla Jovovich) story full circle with a blatantly telegraphed twist.
But clunky dialogue, gloomy cinematography and frenetic editing render story and action near-incomprehensible throughout. A fittingly braindead finale for a fun but inconsistent series.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson; Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, William Levy; Theatrical release: February 3, 2017